May 20, 2022 -For the seventh week in a row, Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) students are getting the chance to experience real-world learning in the skilled trades, right outside their classroom doors.
This week, it’s the Grade 7-12 students at Seaway District High School that are getting the opportunity to weld, use power tools, build circuits, and learn how to challenge and fuel their bodies in new and healthy ways.
These hands-on and real-world activities are part of the UCDSB Specialist High Skills Major Program and the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program initiative to bring the St. Lawrence College Mobile Skills Training Labs to 11 secondary schools across our district, one week at a time, from April 4 until June 17.
Thirty-two students per day go through one of six workshops, which are hosted by an instructor or trainer from St. Lawrence College. The choice of workshops are: carpentry, welding, electrical, fitness, nutrition and culinary.
Grade 8 student Devon Keeler took part in welding and enjoyed the challenge of learning the basics of the trade. “It was lots of fun, but difficult. With help from the instructors, it got easier at the end,” he said.
Each workshop is two-and-a-half hours, but students are excited and engaged the entire time. Grade 8 student Charlie Chafe took part in the electrical workshop and said the instructors were knowledgeable and patient. “We learned how to connect a circuit to create power. Overall, I had fun and learned a lot about electricity. It was a very electrical experience,” he joked.
At Seaway DHS, it was primarily the intermediate students who took part in the welding, carpentry and electrical with the older students focusing on health and culinary.
“This real-world learning experience gets them thinking about skilled trades and gives them a snapshot of what careers are out there. The students going in had pre-conceived notions about certain trades and by the end, they were a lot more comfortable with a welding torch in their hands, for example,” explained UCDSB Skilled Trades Lead Robert Knapp. “Grade 7 and Grade 8 students don’t normally get a lot of exposure to the trades, it’s typically an opportunity that only comes your way in high school.”
“Getting hands-on and learning about the trades when kids are on the verge of entering high school or even in their early high school years is really important. It really gets them thinking about courses they may want to take in high school, and opportunities they may have beyond that,” explains Ashley Grant, Student Success Learning Partner, and co-lead on this initiative. “We are especially interested in ensuring that young women and Indigenous students get an opportunity to participate. Both are groups that are generally under-represented in these areas.”
The trailers will move to St. Lawrence Secondary School for the week of May 24, May 25 and May 26.